At the worst moments of my life, I compose county songs. Both ‘Last night God booed me’ and ‘If I hid, would you come find me’ are my ticket on the Nashville Express. There is something about country music! People love to hear about someone else’s personal problems, as long as it comes with a hummable tune. When my friends are sick of hearing about my romantic woes or questionable life dealings, I know if I can put it to music, maybe even with a catchy tune, they’ll listen up. If they can line dance to it, I can sing that song all night.
Lonesome Road Productions in association with Jim Jensen and Lisselan Productions presents the DOYLE & DEBBIE show. After three marriages, two Debbies, and three years of sobriety, Doyle is back! He is trying to resurrect his past country stardom. His hook back in? Debbie! He recruited Debbie #3 from a VFW hall. Doyle is Debbie’s childhood idol. She knows all his songs. And after just one week of performances, she knows his routine… the music and the mania. Doyle is a handful of ‘His Daddy’s Hair’! The duo sings about their past mistakes while dealing with current issues. The hilarious harmonies are sincerely irreverent. This isn’t your country cousin’s ‘Hee Haw.’ The DOYLE & DEBBIE show is a citified, bona-fide, country-fried chart-buster.
Creator Bruce Arntson birthed a big bouncing bundle of joy. Arntson, who also plays Doyle, sets up the perfect staged showbiz comeback. The farce perpetuates country stereotypes but doesn’t exploit them. It’s the difference between teasing a best friend and poking fun of a stranger. Country music is Arntson’s BFF and he handles it with playful fun. The songs are introduced fairly ordinary. But then the lyrics hit a chord that makes me gasp. ‘I ain’t no homo (but man you sure look good to me)’ and ‘I’ll think of her g-spot as your g-spot.’ It’s crass-tastic! Most of the captivation is Arntson and Jenny Littleton’s (Debbie) croon-ability. They actually can sing… that’s no joke. Littleton is the love child of Patsy Cline and Tammy Wynette that received private tutoring from Dolly Parton. When telling disturbing stories, Littleton does it with a breathy, sweet voice. And when she sings, she belts out in delightful sass. Her ‘ABC’s of Love’ is OMG G-R-E-A-T. Arntson holds his own as a Buck Owens type. He yodels and guffaws like a sparkly, polyester-clad entertainer. In the background, Matthew Carlton is the band. Carlton keeps the act together playing multiple instruments and pacifying volatile performers.
Scenic Designer Kevin Depinet has transformed the Royal George cabaret theatre. Paneled and plastered, the walls shriek country dive. Posters advertise country acts. Neon signs push the beer. The bar is open… literally! Drinks are flowing. The vibe is country-casual. With one shot, The DOYLE & DEBBIE Show becomes fall-off-the-bar-stool fun!
The laughing man falling off his seat next to me, Dick describes it with ‘Hee-Haw-Larious!
Running Time: Ninety minutes includes an *intermission* but don’t go anywhere
At Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted Street
Created by Bruce Arntson
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays at 7:30pm
Fridays at 8pm
Saturdays at 5pm and 8pm
Sundays at 2pm and 5pm
Thru January 8th
Production photography courtesy of Doug Blemker.